Concern expressed over Signs of Safety effectiveness
A systemic review of Signs of Safety has found that, “no evidence” could be found that the model reduces the numbers of children entering care, a new study has found.
The systematic review was one of two research pieces published by the UK government’s, What Works Centre for children’s social care. It found “concerning” question marks over whether and how Signs of Safety’s impact, including its cost-effectiveness, could be measured.
The study found that even though there was a, “lack of basic evidence in relation to Signs of Safety does not mean we should conclude it does not work” and concluded that: “Robust evaluations based on a clearly specified intervention theory are needed to adequately assess whether Signs of Safety can achieve its outcomes when delivered well.”
The systematic review was carried out by academics at the reknowned, What Works Centre, Cardiff University’s CASCADE children’s social care centre. It analysed 38 previous publications relating to Signs of Safety, including qualitative and quantitative academic studies, some of them from outside the UK and of limited relevance.
Also included in the total were examples of ‘grey literature’ such as local and national government reports. Researchers aimed to investigate “whether, how, for whom and under what conditions Signs of Safety works to safely reduce the number of children entering and re-entering care, and to increase the number of children re-unified with their family” and only found one paper from 2009 which proved to have reduced the number of LAC but even that was brought into question as other processes had been used at the same time including Family Group Conference.
The process has been widely used in both the UK and Ireland and while it has its devotees it also has many detractors, especially with Social Workers who find it time consuming and lacked a child focused approach. An investigation carried out by BBC Panorama into The Baby P case found that, "Some social workers who attended the training told the programme that they thought it was useless and did not use it when they went to visit families. Critics claim the danger is that focusing on a parent's future could mean everyone fails to see what's happening to the child right now". Following a review, Haringey Council told Panorama 'that solution focus brief therapy was not appropriate in this case and that the authority no longer uses it in child protection. In future, new approaches like this will be considered by an ethics committee'.
Social Workers in Ireland, where the process in being heavily promoted and being used as part of the Child protection Conferences, have reported that the CPC are taking up to 3 hours to complete. One senior Social Worker with 30 years experience said, "It is only a matter of time before we have a serious incident occur. My worry is, that the social worker will be left to burden the responsibilty and not the systems being foisted on us by senior managers. No desent is allowed".Back